HotHardware Holiday Gift Guide 2010

Have A Merry, Merry Motherboard

Got your CPU? Good. Now it's time to find a motherboard fit to carry it. Here's a list of our favorite mainboards from the past year for both AMD and Intel platofrms, arranged from least expensive to most.

Asus LGA1156 P7P55D-E Pro
- $179

Designed for use with Core i7/i5/i3, there's Asus' LGA1156-based P7P55D-E Pro. Its MSRP is considerably lower than the "Deluxe" version of the board ($179.99 vs. $219), and it offers features like USB 3.0 and SATA 6G, both of which aren't available on the other board. The P7P55D-E Pro's features and price make it an attractive option, sure to thrill any PC builder in your life.

MSI Big Bang XPower
- $299

If you've going for a mid-range Core i7 CPU, this mid-range board is probably a perfect fit if you want all the bells and whistles from a feature standpoint. Plenty full length PCIe slots, plenty of ports and good style to boot. The MSI XPower series of motherboards is clearly designed to curry favor with overclocking enthusiasts and the high-end gamers. The XPower packs full support for all the latest IO interfaces like USB3 and SATA 6G capabilities, but MSI is also claiming to offer certain unique features like their "Quantum Wave" audio processing and "military-grade" components that other manufacturers supposedly don't offer currently.

Asus CrossHair IV Formula - $220

AMD has a new 6-core processor out there, and there's not much one can do with a CPU without a supporting motherboard to go along with it. Asus is more ready than ever to help out, with the introduction a new mainboard based on AMD's latest 890FX chipset. The new Republic of Gamers Crosshair IV Formula is making our cut. One-click overclocking is available, with the Turbo Unlocker smartly adjusting CPU clock speeds based on application workload. When running optimized single-core applications, Turbo Unlocker dynamically adjusts clock speed on a single processor core to ensure maximum performance. For multi-threaded applications, all processor core speeds are dynamically increased to attain the highest performance available.

Gigabyte X58A-UD5 - $282

Based on the Intel X58 and ICH10R chipset for Intel's LGA 1366 Core i7 processors, the GIGABYTE GA-X58A-UD5 delivers plenty of next generation features that gaming enthusiasts and power users have been waiting for. The GIGABYTE GA-X58A-UD5 includes GIGABYTE's 333 Onboard Acceleration features, incorporates USB 3.0, Serial-ATA Revision 3.0 (6Gbps) and a 3x USB Power Boost, as well as multi-GPU support for NVIDIA 3-Way SLI and ATI CrossFireX. If your Secret Santa demands more than this...well, call 'em Scrooge.

Asus X58 Rampage III Extreme - $360

Not only does it look great, but Asus' X58 Rampage III Extreme motherboard is a flagship RoG model. It's designed for gamers, those who will make good use of the expansion slots. With an LGA1366 socket, it supports the latest Core i7 processors, providing six DIMM slots that can house up to 24GB of memory. More than enough PCI Express 2.0 expansion slots are available for Tri-SLI or Quad-CrossFire configurations, allowing you the capability to maximize your system's pixel pushing power.  Not to mention the board overclocks like a banshee.

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